BREMEN, Germany --- Astrium, Europe’s leading space company, has been commissioned by the German Aerospace Centre (DLR) to conduct a study for the testing of future moon landings. The aim is to prove the technological feasibility of a soft and precise robotic landing on the moon.
Astrium has been selected due to the company’s outstanding technically expertise, with a strong foundation in place to both design and implement such a mission. The study will last nine months and be worth nearly EUR 1 million. It will conclude when the technical specifications for the landing vehicle have been determined. The next step will be the development, construction and testing of the vehicle to simulate a moon landing on Earth.
A robotic moon landing specifically requires an autonomous and optical navigation system to carry out the landing smoothly and precisely, plus a very complex propulsion system. “The technologies for this type of landing are currently only available in part, or they have to be built from scratch,” study manager Dr. Peter Kyr said in Bremen on Friday. Kyr stressed that Astrium has top-grade know-how thanks to the successful ATV mission and the flight demonstrator PHOENIX.
The first phase of the study is scheduled to begin in June and should last nine months. During the second phase, the trial carrier will be used to test key technologies as well as the system designed to carry out the soft and precise landings. Engine-supported descents from an altitude of 1.5 kilometres will be performed during the planned trial flights and sensors for carrying out the soft landings, including navigation and obstacle avoidance, will also be tested. The trial runs will be conducted at a testing area in Germany, with the exact location being determined during the course of the study.
The programme makes a significant contribution to positioning Germany as a systems leader for future European moon landing missions. The first trial flights of the demonstrator could take place as early as 2012 and represent a vital step in the development of European moon landing capabilities.
“The decision to entrust Astrium with conducting this study confirms our competence and experience in this field,” said Dr. Michael Menking, Senior Vice-President and head of Orbital Systems and Exploration. “With the intended test flight of a moon landing module on Earth, Germany will earn itself a leading position for future national and European moon missions and will make Europe an equal partner on the international stage. Astrium has a significant part to play here.”
In addition, Astrium is working together with the DLR Institute for Aerospace Systems in Bremen on the construction of a facility to simulate moon and Mars landings. The company is also contributing towards an ESA study to develop a landing system. Today, Astrium is a European leader in the research and development of technologies to carry out soft and precise landings, which it finances mainly through its own assets.
Astrium, a wholly owned subsidiary of EADS, is dedicated to providing civil and defence space systems and services. In 2008, Astrium had a turnover of EUR 4.3 billion and more than 15,000 employees in France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Spain and the Netherlands. Its three main areas of activity are Astrium Space Transportation for launchers and orbital infrastructure, Astrium Satellites for spacecraft and ground segment and Astrium Services for the development and delivery of satellite services.
EADS is a global leader in aerospace, defence and related services. In 2008, EADS generated revenues of EUR 43.3 billion and employed a workforce of more than 118, 000.
Astrium Wins Feasibility Study on Preparation for Moon Landings